Following the path of an ancient Mt. Etna lava flow, Sicily’s Alcantara River carved intricate ravines and underground passages through the volcanic rock. The resulting Alcantara Gorges are part of the Alcantara River Park, popular with travelers drawn to the beautiful rock formations and the refreshing river water, especially in summer.
A visit to the Alcantara Gorges (Gole dell’Alcantara) can include a simple walk through the park, or a more challenging hike down into the canyons—including some more than 200 feet (61 meters) deep—for river trekking. By far the simplest way to manage the logistics of getting to and from the Alcantara Gorges from the Sicilian cities of Taormina, Messina, and Catania is to join a small-group tour that includes hotel pickup and drop-off, round-trip transportation to the Alcantara River Park, and an expert guide. Many full-day tours of Mt. Etna and Alcantara also offer wine tastings at the nearby vineyards, hikes up to the active volcano crater, and a ride on the historic Circumetnea Railway.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bring sturdy footwear, a sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and water, especially if you plan to hike down into the gorges.
- The Alcantara River Park entrance fee is not included in many group tours.
- Because of the rough terrain, hiking the gorges is not recommended for young children or those who are not in good physical condition.
- Along the top of the ravines, there are easy trails, suitable for all ages and physical conditions, that take you through the park’s botanical gardens and past a number of scenic viewpoints.
How to Get There
The main entrance to the Alcantara River Park is about 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) from Taormina. You can reach it easily by car, tour bus, or public bus.
When to Get There
The park is lovely to visit year-round due to Sicily’s mild climate, though is most pleasant in summer’s cooler early morning or late afternoon hours. The park can be very crowded in August, when Italians traditionally go on summer vacation, so it’s best to avoid visiting during this time if you want to appreciate the park in relative peace and quiet.
Alcantara River Park Facilities
The Alcantara River Park entrance fee gives you access to two swimming pools, a 3D film presentation explaining the evolution of the canyon, a botanical museum, a restaurant, and an elevator down into the canyon.